Is 8GB of RAM upgrade worth $300?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by DCBass, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. DCBass macrumors 6502

    Jan 23, 2004
    Washington, DC
    Hey Folks,

    I'm helping a relative choose a new computer, and they're starting to look closely at the base 13.3" Macbook Air. Oddly enough, they are usually a PC user, but have grown frustrated with the poor hardware quality of numerous laptops (lenovo, samsung, HP, etc.). Especially when it comes to the trackpad and even holding a decent internet connection.

    Anyhow, given that one can't upgrade the RAM later (grr...), I think they should go for 8GB of RAM. Brand new, this is $1299.

    However, they can get the refurbished base model with only 4GB of RAM for just $999.

    Is the extra 4GB of RAM worth $300? Ideally this would be their only computer for 3+ years, and they would only be running MS Office on it. They are potentially interested in running Windows in bootcamp, though.



  2. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    4 GB RAM should suffice for using MS Office without running that many other applications (I currently have 15 applications open 2.4 GB of 8 GB RAM free).

    But then again, OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion already struggles for some with only 4 GB of RAM, what might OS X 10.9 or OS X 10.10 might need to run properly?
    If the 300 USD do not hurt (though they probably due in some way, as it is an outrageous price)
    ... goes checking the price ...
    100 USD for 4 GB more RAM, while not exactly that cheap, it is an okay price for 8 GB of RAM and I would go for it.

  3. DCBass thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 23, 2004
    Washington, DC
    Thanks, Sim.

    Indeed, my 2010 MBP on 10.8.2 was starting to run fairly slow. I just upgraded the RAM from 4GB to 8GB, and it made all the difference in the world... like getting a new machine.

    So, yes. Longevity is definitely a prime consideration. But it is still a $300 difference when you compare against the refurbished model.


  4. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    Sorry, missed the refurbished part. My iMac has 4 GB of RAM, my MBP has 8 GB of RAM and I can see the difference, though I still use Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, as OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion is just too frelling stupid for me and takes more resources away than Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. It is almost like running Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard on a G4 iBook, which runs much better with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.
  5. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    Keep an eye out for the 8GB RAM model in the refers store, they do appear occasionally. (And goo again quickly.)

    I am in the extra ram boat, it will provide an extra buffer against swap to the ssd over time too (virtual memory).

    For me large ram is important to maintaining a guaranteed smooth experience.
  6. dinggus macrumors 65816

    Jan 17, 2012
    I don't have a laptop, but I just upgraded to 16GB from 4GB on my iMac. It was starting to run slow on Mountain Lion while using VMware for Windows. Like you said, it's like having a new computer. No wait to what so ever. I love it.
  7. kage207, Jan 30, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013

    kage207 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2008
    I got an MBA with 8GB it's nice. I enjoy it.

    Edit: Just remember resale value and it's $90 (or $100 w/o student discount) more. I think the newest one is worth the investment.
  8. mrsir2009 macrumors 604


    Sep 17, 2009
    Melbourne, Australia
    4GB will be more than enough for MS Office. The only issue might be bootcamp - What sort of stuff would they be running on bootcamp?
  9. rezwits macrumors 6502a


    Jul 10, 2007
    Las Vegas
    He's right about

    Bootcamp would hog, but that's VM running so you are asking is 4GB good enough for 2 computers? so no.

    But 4GB is worth it at the price versus the 8GB for the extra $300 or whatever cause MacConnection has 1.6 2011 MacBook Air 11 for $699 free ship

    So that's almost half the Price of a new MacBook Air 11...

    I was going to get the 699 from MacConnection, then Best Buy stepped in for me, but that's a different story.

    BUt as I was going over prices 8GB just wasn't needed, but the 128GB is need, which is just right for the Apps in your life. IF you install all you want you end up with about 64GB of Apps and 64GB free...

    but 4GB is enough. THat gives you enough to have a work app going in the background or even two, and then Safari running.

    Then if you decide to do something like Updates or whatever, you can goto Finder, hide other apps, and then Launch App Store and do updates and get tweaks and stuff done like system preferences. Then quit those and go back to working, even a quick Skype Call....

  10. glhiii macrumors regular

    Nov 4, 2006
    Worth it

    Had a 4gb 2012 11", returned it for an Apple refurbished 8gb. Yes, it makes a big difference, especially for Parallels.
  11. wolfpuppies3, Jan 31, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2013

    wolfpuppies3 macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2012
    Virginia, USA
    Yes it is worth it, I would highly recommend doing so.
  12. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Very good advice, and well worth heeding. Keep a close eye on the refurb section, and one will the desired RAM spec show up sooner or later.

    Everyone I have spoken to (and most of those who have already posted in answer to your query) all agree that extra RAM matters a lot, especially if you plan to try to 'future proof' your machine and hope to have it for several years.
  13. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    They may not be offered in the refurbished store at all if it is a BTO option. Apple has for many years run the "refurbished store lottery": Only one model is officially offered, but if you are lucky you get a better one than you paid for. Apple could easily decide that the cost of updating their website is higher than the profit of selling 8GB refurbished for a bit more than 4GB refurbished.


    Bootcamp doesn't need any RAM. With Bootcamp, you have either a Mac, or a Windows PC, but only one at a time. If you use Parallels or VMWare, then you have a Mac and a PC at the same time, so you want enough RAM for a Mac, _plus_ enough RAM for a PC (8GB RAM with Parallels or VMWare would be like having a Mac with 4GB, and a PC with 4GB, running in the same case).
  14. Ray Brady macrumors 6502

    Dec 21, 2011
    I've been running a MacBook Pro since 2008 with 4GB of RAM. I use Office on both the OSX side (10.8) and in Bootcamp running Windows Vista. In both environments they run without a problem.
  15. bogatyr macrumors 65816

    Mar 13, 2012
    I disagree if you are using Bootcamp not a VM host (Parallels/Fusion). For running Office alone on either OS X or Windows, 4GB is plenty - even for the next 3 years as Office 2013 just came out and there won't be an update for... 3 years (going off the past records of 2-4 year spans).

    I have both, a low RAM machine and a high RAM machine. Both do everything I expect from them without slowdowns. Of the low RAM, I have a current 2012 MBA 11" with 4GB RAM/64GB SSD. I also have a 2011 MBA 13" 4GB/256GB. On the high side I have a rMBP 15" 16GB/512GB.

    Both the 2011 and the 2012 MBA models with 4GB RAM run Office fine, they also run: Xcode, Safari with 10 tabs, BBEdit, Mail, iMessages, iTap, ForkLift and some other apps without paging out to the SSD. The 13" 2011 also runs VMWare with a single 2GB Win7 VM - lots of paging out, not noticeable speed difference.

    The 2012 rMBP with 16GB of RAM also pages out... but I run 4+ VMs on it at any given time, plus the apps above.

    For the given use in the OP, I would recommend the 4GB/256GB MBA. Any paging out would be barely noticeable on the SSD (benchmark wise - huge difference but we're speaking user performance). If using VMWare/Parallels instead of bootcamp, then 8GB/256GB. You could get by on 128GB of SSD space but doing both OS X and Windows on it will be tight.
  16. MacSignal macrumors regular

    May 8, 2010
    My thought is $300 would buy a lot more spent on the next computer when this one can't function well enough due to the 4GB limit. Buying new, $100 difference is worth it for resale and future-proofing.

    I have a pal with a MBA 13 ultimate and his install of Windows under Parallels doesn't seem any faster than what I saw casually testing the same set-up on my basic 2012 MBA 13.

    I don't run Bootcamp, but I have a difficult time thinking 4GB would not be sufficient given the number of Windows boxes running Office without any memory issues on 4GB RAM.
  17. Miat macrumors 6502a

    Jul 13, 2012
    $300 is a lot of money just for an extra 4GB RAM.

    Currently two 8GB RAM BTO Airs in the Australian refurb store, an 11 and a 13".

    Not sure that is true, at least not in Australia. Both standard and BTO models are listed at the same time.
  18. rezwits macrumors 6502a


    Jul 10, 2007
    Las Vegas
    THing is people run their Bootcamp partition directly in VMWare or Parallels, I think that's what they're implying. I am at least :)

    Something to think about tho in this arena, which does matter, is that when you use more "Memory" you start paging, but with an SSD in your machine, you have kinda like unlimited RAM, or as much as you have free on your SSD. Yeah it's slower than RAM but in comparison to older machines it's really not. This is a MacBOok Air 11 for crying out loud :D So you are getting a pretty good bang for your buck. IF, and that's the key IF you keep the cost down on extraneous items. I mean come on you don't need 512GB SSD or 8 or 16 GBs, that's what I have on my 17" MacBook Pro. It's a MacBook AIR :p I mean this should be a Machine you use and abuse, sell, crumple, recycle and get a new one in 1.5 years... for $700 basically, that's what it feel like...

  19. lixuelai macrumors 6502a

    Oct 29, 2008
    I was in a similar dilemma earlier this week for a MBA for my sister. BB was offering pretty good deals on open box and Amazon was matching those. To get a 8GB model would be roughly $300 more going by the cheapest I can purchase with a new warranty.

    Anyway I decided to save the $300. Your usage description is pretty much identical to my sister's. Basic office productivity, browsing, music and some movies. 4GB is plenty for those tasks now. The question is 2-3 years in the future. However I figured the MBA will depreciate roughly 50% in maybe 2 years. Sell it then and add in the $300 you save in the cost right now you are very close to a new machine.

    So ask yourself if they need the RAM now or for future proofing. If it is the later then save the money and upgrade sooner with the savings.
  20. robvas macrumors 68030

    Mar 29, 2009
    The SSD helps - but 4GB is still fairly roomy.
  21. NightMoose macrumors newbie

    Oct 5, 2012
    I was in the same boat as you a few weeks ago. In the end, I went with the memory upgrade and I'm extremely glad I did. I like to keep a few programs open at all times, including MS word, Chrome (~8 tabs), Tweetbot, and Dropbox. This eats up around 3.5 GB of RAM. I never experience noticeable lag and I have plenty of room for future OS upgrades.

    My advice -- Keep your eye on the Mac refurbished store, craigslist, and eBay. Sign up with in order to receive updates on new listings in the Mac refurbished store. After about a week of searching, I found my MBA on sale at Best Buy (Canada) for $1150 new! A little patience will pay off :)
  22. rezwits macrumors 6502a


    Jul 10, 2007
    Las Vegas
    If you have patience

    If you're lucky and you have "enough" patience I would say wait too. But the only thing is normally, unless it's a refurb. You are probably not going to get $100, $200, or even $300 off on an 8 GB model, cause it's BTO...

    So weigh that out... cause depending on stock and how bad stores want to get rid of inventory, they might pop up with more sales on the 4GB 64/128 models cause they are stock-able... to add to this is the "New Releases" on Airs supposedly coming up so... you got 2 major factors there.

  23. Acorn macrumors 68020


    Jan 2, 2009
    I would suggest 8 gb. especially if they are going to use a virtual machine for windows. you could always reboot and run it native, but I have to tell you running it in a virtual machine inside mac osx is really nice. since they are primarily a windows user this could offer them some comfort during the transition.

    I say sign up for one of those websites that monitor apple's refurbished stock and wait for a refurbished 8 gb air.

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